BILL IN THE BLOGOSPHERE

Aside from the many, many hours that Bill hung out with me at the tiny office back in those days in the 90’s at 65 Almeria Avenue, drinking coffee and talking about a wide ranging panoply of subjects, from astronomy to zebras, was always a delight, a needed break in the middle of many a long day, and an ongoing series of lessons in living and the power of knowledge and inquisitiveness. Bill’s familiarity with all sorts of things, art, music (classical and jazz, instrumental and vocal), theatre (of course) and goodness knows what all else was staggering, entertaining, never pedantic. Bill’s curiosity was insatiable and he could ask and listen with the best. He – wonder of wonders – was one of the easiest and most “director-friendly” actors with whom I ever worked. A gentleman through and through, he had a wicked sense of humor – never at the expense of another actor. On the rare occasions when I saw Bill cry foul, I remember that his anger could be Olympian. Bill never suffered fools well.

All directors have favorite stories and favorite moments and, of course, favorite actors. I list him as one of mine in my own blog. His attention to minutiae was the stuff of legend, and his capability to act with his whole being was awe-inspiring.

One of many such Hindman moments took place at the end of Clarence Darrow, when the aging and, for the first or, if not the first, then one of the very few times in his career, Darrow is so roundly defeated that he confesses he is ready to give up the practice of law. Bill played a simple, clean, thoughtful series of actions: clearing his desk, neatly putting a pencil on a pencil holder, rolling back his chair and then rolling it back under his desk, putting his files inside his briefcase, putting on his jacket, then his topcoat, then his hat, then looking around his office, then walking away with the weight of fifty plus years of trial and tribulations on his broad back. Man! That was amazing acting: pure, cleanly executed, emotionally-charged, eloquent with no need of words.

Another such moment occurred at the end of Mark St. Germain’s Camping With Henry And Tom, in which Bill played Thomas A. Edison. Bill and I were not sure of how to do Edison’s final exit, which was sort of written as a throw-away kind of thing. In the play Edison mentions a real-life occurrence: while swimming in a pond with another boy in his teens, Edison failed to save his drowning friend. I asked Bill to make a so-called “false” exit, leaving behind on stage some prop or other, then come back, pick it up, and look at the “pond” that lay across the “fourth wall” that divided stage from audience. Bill, in his inimitably casual way said something to me along the lines of “Alright… let me try it. ..that’s a good idea…” Again, what Bill finally delivered was another moment of “this is the way to do it!” I loved that man!

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